Nacarlo happy with opportunity to coach Holmdel girls soccer team

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Holmdel High School girls soccer coach John Nacarlo speaks to his team at halftime of its season opener against Long Branch on October 1 in Holmdel. Nacarlo coached the Holmdel boys soccer team for 16 years and won three state championships. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Holmdel High School girls soccer player Lindsay Guarnaccia battles with Long Branch defender Andrea Freije Trochez for control of the ball during a game played on October 1 in Holmdel. Guarnaccia scored a goal in Holmdel's 7-0 victory over Long Branch. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Holmdel High School girls soccer player Taylor Bielan races up the field with the ball during the team's season opener against Long Branch on October 1 in Holmdel. Bielan scored a goal and had an assist in the team's 7-0 victory over Long Branch. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Holmdel High School girls soccer player Sydnie Nied throws the ball into play during the team's season opener against Long Branch on October 1 in Holmdel. Holmdel defeated Long Branch 7-0 to start the season 1-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Holmdel High School girls soccer player Katie Vassilakos controls the ball during the team's season opener against Long Branch on October 1 in Holmdel. Vassilakos scored a game in the team's 7-0 victory over Long Branch.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Holmdel High School girls soccer coach John Nacarlo speaks to his team at halftime of its season opener against Long Branch on October 1 in Holmdel. Nacarlo coached the Holmdel boys soccer team for 16 years and won three state championships. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Holmdel High School girls soccer player Lindsay Guarnaccia battles with Long Branch defender Andrea Freije Trochez for control of the ball during a game played on October 1 in Holmdel. Guarnaccia scored a goal in Holmdel's 7-0 victory over Long Branch. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Holmdel High School girls soccer player Taylor Bielan races up the field with the ball during the team's season opener against Long Branch on October 1 in Holmdel. Bielan scored a goal and had an assist in the team's 7-0 victory over Long Branch. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Holmdel High School girls soccer player Sydnie Nied throws the ball into play during the team's season opener against Long Branch on October 1 in Holmdel. Holmdel defeated Long Branch 7-0 to start the season 1-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Holmdel High School girls soccer player Katie Vassilakos controls the ball during the team's season opener against Long Branch on October 1 in Holmdel. Vassilakos scored a game in the team's 7-0 victory over Long Branch.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

HOLMDEL – John Nacarlo admitted it felt strange when he stood on the sidelines for the national anthem as his Holmdel High School girls soccer team prepared to face Long Branch in its 2020 season opener on Oct. 1 at Bob Roggy Memorial Field.

It was a moment Nacarlo, the former Holmdel boys soccer coach, did not think he would have after stepping away from coaching in 2019. But after a year away, Nacarlo wanted to get back into coaching and also have a chance to coach the players on the girls team.

Being a physical education teacher at the Village School in Holmdel, Nacarlo previously taught a lot of the girls on the team and he knew the Hornets had the potential to accomplish great things during the next few years.

“I didn’t know what to expect as far as seeing them on the field. Once I got to see them play and saw their abilities, it added a lot of excitement about having the opportunity to be their coach,” Nacarlo said.

Nacarlo turned the Holmdel boys team into a Shore Conference soccer powerhouse during his 16 years at the helm. He directed the Hornets to three state titles and in 2018, Holmdel was named the No. 1 team in the state after winning a second straight NJSIAA Group 2 title.

Coaching the girls team has brought some differences to his coaching style, Nacarlo acknowledged, but he said the players made the transition easier with their strong work ethic.

“They have made it very enjoyable for me,” Nacarlo said. “They have the talent and are working hard. They just need to come together as a team and that’s what they are doing right now.”

Nacarlo said the players have done a good job dealing with the protocols all New Jersey high school sports teams must follow in the wake of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

The Hornets began the season with a bang against Long Branch as five players found the back of the net in a 7-0 victory.

Senior captain Sofia Mancino scored two goals and dished out an assist, while fellow captain Lindsay Guarnaccia scored Holmdel’s first goal of the season in the second minute.

Junior Julianna Kolbasovsky scored two goals. Sophomore Taylor Bielan assisted on Kolbasovsky’s first goal and also scored a goal.

Junior Katie Vassilakos scored the Hornets’ final goal early in the second half and also had an assist.

The players are happy to have Nacarlo coaching them and know he is pushing them to be the best team they can be.

“He’s given us a mindset I don’t think this team ever had,” Mancino said. “He pushes us to be the best players we can be. We definitely run more than any other team and I think that will put us on top. No other team is going to be in better shape than us.”

Nacarlo said the players have high aspirations for 2020 and he said he believes the Hornets are capable of winning their Shore Conference division and an NJSIAA sectional championship.

As he watched his team record an impressive victory to open the season, Nacarlo couldn’t help but smile and enjoy seeing three months of hard work pay off for his players.

He knows his players have the talent to accomplish a lot this fall and he believes their performance can improve as they become more comfortable in his system.

“I want them to understand it’s not just about their ability, it’s about them coming together and playing the game the right way and being positive with each other. All of that is happening right now,” Nacarlo said.